Irish government approves wording of abortion referendum

The Irish government has approved the wording that will appear on the ballot paper in May's abortion referendum.

In the referendum, voters will be asked if they want to repeal the eighth amendment, which declares that unborn foetuses and pregnant women an equal right to life.

The language is very broad, giving rise to concerns that Ireland will be pushed to legalize abortion without restriction.

Professor William Binchy, legal advisor for the Pro Life Campaign, said the judgment "makes it all the more necessary to oppose the Government's proposal to introduce abortion on demand".

Abortion is a topic that is so influenced by what is going on in our own lives, and by our own experiences of fertility and pregnancy and family planning, but this International Women's Day in Ireland, we will be having these very hard conversations, to ensure that the May referendum makes a real difference to the lives of all women and girls here.

There will also be a cooling off period: When a woman goes to seek an abortion, she will have to wait two or three days to consider it before being given an abortion pill. "The way the day is being exploited is a total betrayal of women and their unborn babies".

On Friday, Minister for Health Simon Harris published a policy paper outlining how the Government intends to legislate if Article 40.3.3, dealing with the right to life of the unborn, is repealed.

Currently, terminations are allowed only when the life of the mother is at risk, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison. This could mean wide exceptions that allow even healthy, viable, late-term unborn babies to be aborted for nearly any reason. They remarked on the fact that it was also International Women's Day. Women who attempt their own abortions would not face criminal prosecution.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had chose to wait for the Supreme Court judgment in a case that was being appealed by the state before finalizing the exact wording and date of the referendum.

Ailbhe Smyth of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment said: "This is a historic and momentous day for Ireland, and for the women of Ireland in particular".

She said that the protestors' message to the minister was, "We deserve your support, not your abortion bill".

But Cullen and other pro-life advocates said there is a better way. Legalizing abortion will not help mothers, it will only pressure them to kill their unborn babies.